£12m distillery planned for site linked to Robert the Bruce

Sir Ludovic 'Ludo' Shaw-Stewart, the 12th baronet and owner of Ardgowan Estate. Picture: Ardgowan Distillery Company/PA Wire

Sir Ludovic 'Ludo' Shaw-Stewart, the 12th baronet and owner of Ardgowan Estate. Picture: Ardgowan Distillery Company/PA Wire

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A new distillery is to be built on a 600-year-old estate with links to King Robert the Bruce and Pocahontas.

Inverclyde Council has approved plans for the £12 million distillery and visitor centre on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip.

Ardgowan Distillery Company can now advance its proposal to build a “world-class” lowland malt whisky distillery and visitor attraction on the site, with plans to be operational in 2019.

Sir Ludovic “Ludo” Shaw-Stewart, the 12th baronet and owner of Ardgowan Estate, said: “The lands around the estate have been occupied nearly continuously for over 4,000 years and the history of my family at Ardgowan stretches back over 600 years. In that time, Ardgowan has played its part in the story of Scotland.

“King Robert the Bruce fought here prior to Bannockburn and his descendent King Robert III granted the estate lands to my ancestor Sir John Stewart in 1404.

“The Ardgowan Distillery will be a fantastic new chapter in the history of this area, and all future drams will have these extraordinary bloodlines - from both Scotland and the United States - in their veins.”

The estate has had an eventful history, with a series of infamous witch trials in the 17th century when witch mania was rife in Inverkip.

In 1819, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart (the 5th baronet) married Eliza Farquhar, a direct descendent of Native American Princess Pocahontas.

In 1854, Jane Shaw Stewart, Sir Michael’s granddaughter, sailed to the Crimea where she became a pioneering nurse, working closely with and befriending Florence Nightingale.

Work on the distillery will begin this year and will see construction on the site of an old sawmill.

The distillery last month announced the appointment of former Macallan managing director Willie Phillips as company chairman, and the addition of ex-Bruichladdich and Diageo veterans Gordon Wright and Michael Egan in commercial and product engineering advisory roles.

Distillery chief executive Martin McAdam said: “Our goal is to produce a truly outstanding seven-year-old lowland single malt.

“In the coming weeks we will commence detailed design and procurement work for the construction of the distillery, and this will give us the opportunity to engage with local businesses and the public in order to develop our plan and start to employ the staff that will be engaged during the construction and operational stage.”

The facility will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street, Greenock.

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